car door with electronic keyHow are you doing? My week has been a bit of a mix.

My car had an electrical fault last week – security alarm sounding whenever I physically opened the door. You can imagine that my neighbours were not amused. I tried to fix it over several days consulting the handbook, ringing the garage, the emergency rescue service and finally resorting to YouTube videos.

None of the amazing solutions offered did a thing to stop the klaxon sounding or the lights flashing so I booked an appointment with a local auto-electrical specialist.

I woke early on Tuesday morning to take the car – spent 15 minutes defrosting the windows ready for the journey across town. I wrapped up warm, made sure I had my V5 ownership document and driving licence in my bag. I plucked up the courage to open the door and: SILENCE. No alarm. I closed the door, locked the car. Opened the door. Silence. I started the car. Drove round the block. Tried closing then opening the door again. Silence

Should I be pleased or frustrated that the fault had just disappeared? Good luck? Bad luck? What do you think? (I know I didn’t feel as smug as that proverbial Chinese farmer!)

My week did get better – or is that even better? I heard from two previous clients who had participated in different Imposter Syndrome workshops and were now sharing news of successful job applications.

One was a postdoc on a short term contract when we first met. In November last year she started a new role as a Lecturer on a secure (well, as good as it gets in academia!) contract and is joining me, starting next week, for a leadership coaching programme. You can imagine we are both delighted with her professional success and I’m looking forward to helping her develop confident leadership skills over the next 6 months.

And just yesterday an email from a different client. She was an Associate Professor when we first met in 2019 and last year was awarded full Professor status. Yay!!!

I know both of these clients worked hard for the roles and responsibilities they now have and I’m sure they earned their success. I’m also very privileged to have had some part in supporting their professional self-confidence, helping them to overcome those doubts, the imposter feelings, that sometimes hold women back from going for promotion in their workplace.

The research is clear on this. Women are less likely to apply for jobs that they are aware of, particularly if the job or role is a promotion or more senior role than they currently have. Many women often hold themselves back until they are highly confident that they meet all the criteria for the advertised post. Good thing, bad thing? What do you think?

It means that when women do apply for a job they are, on average, more likely to get an offer than a male competitor. There is some comfort in that.

It could mean women are more risk averse, maybe less competitive or possibly more strategic than their male peers. There are no absolute answers here.

I do know that the statistics are clear. Women are under-represented in roles as those roles increase in seniority. The reasons are complex and multi-dimensional.

In order to change this we need more women to believe they can do the job. It is all too easy to imagine that if I don’t “absolutely know” then I can’t be good enough. If I’m “making it up as I go along” then I must be flakey.

It could be just as true to see these responses as signs of a willingness to take appropriate risks and to respond flexibly to situations arising. I think that’s a much more positive interpretation of the same set of situations, looking at the opportunity from a different perspective or with a different filter.

Time and again I support my clients to step beyond their current comfort zone. Yes, that can feel scary. Often the alarm bells ring loudly, if metaphorically, in their ears. There’s that slight sense of panic as we feel that we don’t know for certain and it might all go wrong – but it might also go right! That “learning zone” has a whole different feel to it – is that panic or is it excitement? – but once you realise it’s supposed to feel like that, the alarm stops sounding. It even starts to feel like fun!

So, I hope you have had a good week, maybe even stepping into your learning zone and turning down those alarm bells. The weekend is almost upon us so I hope you have something kind lined up that will make you smile!


PS: if you want to expand your comfort zone, move from imposter to empowered or to develop the confident leader within, I have a programme that could support you. These two programmes have a core development message, one is more oriented towards personal development and confidence, the other towards professional development and the exercise of leadership skills.  I’d be delighted to hear from you if you wanted to join me. Do contact me if you’d like to explore the difference between these options to see which suits you best.

Let’s arrange a time to talk!